Murder of 9-year-old shocks country

Jakub Šimánek, photo: CTK

The rape and murder of 9-year-old Jakub Šimánek from Havlíčkův Brod has shocked the nation, leading to questions why more wasn’t done to keep track of the suspect - a repeat sex offender from neighbouring Slovakia. The Slovak national spent years in detention and upon release was ordered to undergo outpatient treatment. The fact that he didn’t should have set the alarm bells ringing.

Jakub Šimánek,  photo: CTK
The sex-abuse murder of a nine-year-old boy in the Czech-Moravian highlands has left many in the Czech Republic deeply shocked. Images of the boy as well as his grieving family have been broadcast repeatedly on television, bringing home the grim reality and leading many to ask themselves simply “How could this happen?”. Nine-year-old Jakub disappeared in May but his body was only uncovered at the weekend after police arrested a suspect - a Slovak national with a history of sex offences. He led them to the place where he’d hidden the child’s body. In addition, the suspect, named Antonín Novák, admitted to the abuse of ten other boys throughout the country, leaving the police to retrace his steps. It is believed that he targeted little boys on playgrounds or near supermarkets. Additional crimes have not been ruled out.

What is the dominant factor that led to the recent tragedy? Above all, that officials in neighbouring Slovakia failed to alert their international counterparts that Mr Novák’s whereabouts were unknown and that he was considered dangerous. Such mistakes can begin as easily as a psychiatrist failing to contact the courts or police when a patient ordered to undergo treatment fails to show up. Petr Weiss, a respected Czech sex therapist, says the problem is not in the system itself, but rather a lack of diligence on the part of doctors.

Antonín Novák in custody,  photo: CTK
“The system itself is not bad but it happens that the rules are not always followed properly. If somebody doesn’t follow through with outpatient treatment ordered by the court, the doctor should contact the court. But often they don’t, and untreated patients can be very dangerous. For many psychiatrists sex offenders are often a very marginal group of patients as they have schizophrenics and people with other ailments so sex offenders are often not at the centre of their focus.”

Unchecked, it was only a small step for Antonín Novák to travel undetected within Schengen, as well as to live in the Czech Republic under an assumed name. Dr Weiss and others say what would help prevent tragedies like Jakub’s is a register of sex offenders:

“We should have in the European Union a full register of sex offenders and police need to have access to the data. Maybe that would help. But as far as I know the Slovak police did not tell our own police that this man was punished for paedophilia in the past.”